Armor as Damage Reduction


Who said anything about increasing hit points by armour?
Armor as damage reduction increases your effective hit points. It lets you take more hits than you would normally. I’d expect a game with armor-as-DR to balance armor class, damage, and hit points to take that into account.

For example, a B/X bandit has a THAC0 of 19 and does 1d6 damage (average of 3.5). If you have 4 hp, and your armor has an AC of 7 with DR 2, then your effective hp is ~7 — you’ll last 4.4 rounds on average instead of 2.5 with no DR.

Of course, if you get unlucky, you can still die sooner than expected. Had that experience one raid tier in WoW when our MT insisted on gearing for avoidance (and eHP) because it was “optimal”. Those were certainly stupid wipes. 😅
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If you wanted to go back to the old Lethal/non-lethal damage types from 3e(which I always found worked well), I have a book called 'Grim Tales' (it's kind of based on d20modern). In it, they have armour convert lethal damage to non-lethal.

For instance, if you take 10 points of damage from a sword but are wearing full plate (armour 8), your hit points drops by 2 points but you gain 8 points of non-lethal damage.

When your hit point total is less than your non-lethal hit point total, you are rendered unconscious.

Edit: this also does not increase the amount of hits it takes to drop a person. It just makes it less deadly when you drop.

Mythras baby! Armor straight up reduces the amount of damage taken. With each hit location (head, chest, torso, arms, legs) having a very limited number of HP. The math works wonderfully. The best armor will negate a blow from a long sword, but there are ways to get past it. Definitely makes players who play warriors gear up in a logical fashion. You are very unlikely to fight without a helmet or shield, you know, like in real life. First game I ever played where even less combat focused PCs made sure to get a helmet.


Staff member
I am in the midst of introducing new players to Hero in my urban fantasy game. My players, one especially, are a bit maths allergic. But they're not having any trouble. Partly that's because I'm going slow, introducing different concepts slowly and giving people a chance to get used to them before introducing new ones. Partly it's because, quite frankly, it aint hard maths. I encourage the characters to have armour rated in easy multiples, 5 or 10, to make the maths easier.
Yep. 99% of the difficult math in HERO is in character creation & improvemt.* Damage is basically roll dice, total it up, reduce it by the amount of defenses, and subtract it from the targeted stat. It’s no more complicated than going grocery shopping with coupons & gift cards.

Gotta say, though, I’ve never heard anyone suggesting the multiples of 5 thing. That’s a nice little mental trick to keep things seemingly familiar & intuitive. Clever!

* the remaining 1% that happens in games is mostly because of certain martial arts moves that require velocity calculations.


Heretic of The Seventh Circle
So, gather round the fire and tell me your tales of systems that you love that treat armor as damage reduction rather than a modifier to hit. I'm spinning a tale of my own about how a relatively light OSR approach can run armor as damage reduction, but I find myself in need of some inspiration.
In the most recent untested version of defense mechanics in my own game, you basically defend like making a D&D saving throw, reducing the number of damage dice that the attacker or hazard will roll against you. Armor and other defensive aids give a flat reduction to the damage (one of very few flat bonuses or penalties in the entire game). Some armor has higher protection against certain things, and some attacks like those with a gun within its ideal range have properties that bypass armor of certain types entirely.


Morkus from Orkus
It’s no more complicated than going grocery shopping with coupons & gift cards.
I haven't used coupons since I was very young and very poor, but one thing I will always remember is this. Coupons were complicated as hell. This coupon gives 40% off, except on the weekends, with these other coupons, if there's a sale going on, and your cat hacked up a hairball. All in very tiny print. And then when you finally get it all lined up for use, it expired yesterday. :p


Front Range Warlock
In both HarnMaster 3 and HarnMaster Gold, armor reduces damage when a character is successfully hit in combat. Some armor can be layered (e.g. padded armor under plate armor), further increasing the protective quality of such armors.

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